find the debate on childhood smacking to be interesting and yet pointless.
It is a prime example of how today's society (or perhaps just our politicians)
confuse separate issues and attempt to introduce sweeping "solutions"
which then wreak havoc in the long-term.
The vast majority
of parents (and even those who are not!), will agree that attempting
to discipline a young child is, for the most part, impossible by reasoning.
At the tender age of two years, children are not capable of engaging
in reasoned debate about the finer points of right and wrong. They are
explorers, curious as to what the consequences of their actions are,
but without the capability to listen to others to find out: instead
they seek to experience those consequences first hand. The example all
of us go through is being told that we should not touch a flame: I would
wager all of us did touch it, or at least try very hard to, despite
our parents saying "no".
Learning the difference
between right and wrong is brought about by discipline. Sometimes simply
shouting at a child is enough to instil in them the idea that something
should not be done. However, there are times when something more is
necessary. Smacking is one such tool to enable discipline: where a child
receives a punishment that does indeed cause a small amount of temporary
pain, but that enables them to form an association between something
being most definitely "wrong", and a punishment.
Sadly, in our society
there are those who physically abuse their children. I doubt anyone
would condone actions where a child is subject to such abuse. However,
it is a fallacy to label smacking as abuse: in a stable family parents
love their children very much. Whilst they wish to ensure that their
offspring grow up as decent members of society, they would never cause
lasting hurt to their children. To my knowledge abuse does not take
place in loving families.
By banning smacking
completely, we remove an essential way for children to learn the difference
between right and wrong. It is of significant note that over the years
we have eroded any effective mechanisms of punishment in schools, resulting
in children who are now more violent and misbehaved than ever before.
Violence and discipline are two completely separate concepts, where
the latter can prevent the former. How many criminals grew up in broken
families where there was no discipline? Contrast this with how many
child abuse cases there are in loving families who use smacking.
(N.B. I do not, unfortunately, have any figures for this. Instead, I
appeal to the reader's common sense).
are families where children are not smacked, and yet where they learn
discipline. It would be foolish to attempt to show otherwise! However,
this does not mean that the same is possible for all other families:
people are very different, and for many, the most effective method of
discipline is smacking. Of paramount importance is the fact that good
parents all share a deep love for their children, which provokes an
overriding desire to ensure that they are safe, well, and happy. Discipline
goes some way to ensuring this. Abuse does not. But to eliminate effective
discipline will result in exactly what the "child-lobby" purports
to be attempting to discourage: children with no respect for others
become adults who abuse their own offspring. Children do indeed have
rights: one of them is the right to a proper upbringing, teaching in
how to behave, in what is right and wrong, and in respect for others,
all of which will then satisfy their right to a decent life as they
grow up. By campaigning for the right of children to not be sensibly
disciplined, politicians are denying future adults of the right to live
in a society with minimal violence and maximal respect.